We humans learn our lessons the hard way. We have since the beginning. The best way to strip human beings of legalism, self-reliance, and pride is to bring us to the end of ourselves, so we can truly recognize our weaknesses and our need for God.
After that, we know. But often, we are then afraid.
Like Elijah, we run and hide in caves, or we wrestle in the desert, thrashing and fighting with God like Jacob. Like the disciples, we tear away into the dark of night, lest we too be taken. We stare at one another, terror rising in our throats when we realize what we’ve lost.
As C.S. Lewis wrote: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
This is me. Maybe this is you, too.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, our family faced tragedy, heartache, financial ruin, and the early beginnings of my chronic disease. I became angry at God. I didn’t understand. Surely, I reasoned, these things didn’t happen to Christians. But yet, they had.
Those events compelled me to dig deeper into God’s Word. I needed to know him more thoroughly. I sought more depth than platitudes could offer.
Struggling to comprehend the whys, I threw myself into theological study and increasing self-reflection. I strove to comprehend two types of trial: hardship brought as a result of God’s discipline and hardship brought for reasons we may never know.
Both hurt. And both are always involved in our trials, for none of us are perfect. We are constantly in need of refining. Thus, we may never know exactly why.
With this solid underpinning of decades in God’s Word, my illness worsened, and we recently relocated cross country. During the home inspections, mold was discovered in our attic. We openly disclosed everything. The Golden Rule always applies.
As a result, we lost decades of the accrued principle of home ownership. But, in answer to our prayers, the house sold, and we were able to pay off our mortgage. We walked away with nothing, arriving at our new location two years before retirement.
But we had grown. This time, I didn’t react in anger, but rather in gratitude.
Belief doesn’t mean we’ll never get sick or suffer loss. Belief means we know that God is with us in it, no matter what. Faith informs us that God is orchestrating both good and bad for the purpose of making us more like Christ, the type of people he always intended us to be.Belief doesn't mean we'll never get sick or suffer loss. Belief means we know that God is with us in it, no matter what. Click To Tweet
Faith has nothing to do with emotions. Faith is stepping forward as if God’s promises are true and his character proven. Because they are.Faith has nothing to do with emotions. Faith is stepping forward as if God's promises are true and his character proven. Because they are. Click To Tweet
The Jewish nation was carried into captivity and resettled in a pagan land because of their sin. As sinners we are like them, constantly in need of refinement.
Job was described by God as “blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil.” Like Job, we are called blameless in Christ, but also like Job, we are learning to let go, to trust God, and to allow God to be God – uncontrollable and above our comprehension.
In all our trials, there’s always the need to repent and grow, and there’s also the need to believe that God’s kindness and providence will orchestrate it for our good.In all our trials, there's always the need to repent and grow, and there's also the need to believe that God's kindness and providence will orchestrate it for our good. Click To Tweet
In my current study of Isaiah, I see God repeatedly reassuring his people when they have doubts and fears. He isn’t impatient with them. He isn’t angry. He affirms his love and care.
He speaks to their fears: Do not be afraid. Trust me.
As the Jewish nation returned from their captivity, they repeatedly questioned whether they could trust God. He had foretold their captivity, and millions of them had been slaughtered, decimating their families and destroying their homeland. Yet, God had also promised to bring them safely home again. And he had. What a quandary!
And so, the Lord answered them with his ultimate proof of love and commitment – his promise to become one of us, to suffer while having done nothing wrong, and to entrust himself as a human being into the hands of a Father who can be trusted.
In their doubt and fear, God revealed to his people the coming Servant, Jesus Christ. He began specifically to detail this One, the One we now lean on, because in whatever trial, he has suffered the same. He knows us. He is with us in it. He loves us.
We learn from Christ’s example how to respond to our own trials. We walk in his steps. With eyes on Christ, in trial and in blessing, we grow to become more like him. Jesus is our God, and whether we’re hiding in the cave or wrestling him in the darkness, he never forsakes us. In even this, he uses it all for our good. Trust him. Rely on our God.Jesus is our God, and whether we're hiding in the cave or wrestling him in the darkness, he never forsakes us. In even this, he uses it all for our good. Trust him. Rely on our God. Click To Tweet